Profit-takers took centre stage yesterday, almost leaving local shares in the red, after Tuesday's sharp rise. The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) spent most of yesterday morning in the red until Chinese data cushioned the fall.
Trade numbers gave investors some hope even though China's exports for last month lagged market expectations to rise by 6.9 per cent from a year earlier. Imports beat forecasts though and the country reportedly has a trade surplus of US$38.17 billion (S$52 billion) for the month.
That gave local shares a boost and left the STI up 8.15 points or 0.24 per cent to 3,421.25 for the day but the gains were not broad-based.
Turnover came in at 2.8 billion units changing hands worth $1.3 billion with losers beating gainers 250 to 194. The result largely mirrored Wall Street overnight where the S&P 500 was flat and the tech-heavy Nasdaq retreated from earlier highs.
Only OCBC of the three banking stocks had a correction, losing 1.8 index points and dipping five cents to $11.76. DBS and UOB added a combined 6.5 points to the index: DBS rising 27 cents to $23.76 and UOB up eight cents to $25.21.
In the property sector, CapitaLand slipped eight cents to $3.64 on a volume of 19.5 million while CapitaLand Commercial Trust slid two cents to $1.81 on a volume of 19.4 million. Both counters made it to the actives list. CapitaLand's third-quarter profit was boosted by fair value and portfolio gains from its Singapore and China properties, rising 28 per cent to $316.95 million.
More than 26.5 million shares of Catalist-listed Spackman Entertainment Group changed hands, lifting it to among the top 20 most active counters. The stock closed 0.2 cent higher at $0.12.
Ms Lim Siew Khee, head of Singapore research at CIMB, noted that earnings have been good so far, driven by the banks, manufacturing and gaming. "Industrials such as Sembcorp Industries and Sembcorp Marine earnings have not been great but are not surprising because of weak orders last year. Keppel Corporation did well, thanks to investment division and divestment gains," she said.
Ms Lim's three top picks are: Venture Corporation, as momentum is going strong into next year coupled with the hope of a dividend increase; Keppel Corp for the safer proxy to any return of oil and gas spending, as well as divestment gains to contribute more to the dividend pool and the potential for a higher dividend next year; and DBS for its accelerated recognition of residual oil and gas exposure as non-performing assets and stronger earnings growth on the back of lower credit costs and healthy business momentum.
Index heavyweight Singtel closed unchanged at $3.78, ahead of its results announcement today.Others slated to release numbers today include City Developments, UOL, Sats, First Resources, Parkway Life Reit, Ho Bee Land and Fragrance Group.